Scientists have developed a smart “band-aid” that uses electrical currents to heal wounds 25 percent faster than traditional methods by stimulating tissue to speed recovery.
The smart bandage consists of wireless circuits that use the flow of electrical currents and temperature sensors to monitor the progress of wound healing.
According to researchers, the high-tech device promotes faster wound closure, increases new blood flow to the injured tissue and improves skin regeneration by significantly reducing scarring.
The high-tech wireless bandage is the work of Stanford University researchers and was featured in a paper published Nov. 24 in Nature Biotechnology.
Scientists have developed a smart bandage that can help speed wound healing by monitoring the injury and treating it at the same time
The smart bandage consists of wireless circuitry (above) that uses the flow of electrical currents and temperature sensors to monitor the progress of wound healing
If a person’s wound has not yet healed or the dressing detects infection, the sensors can deliver more electrical stimulation over the wound area to accelerate tissue regeneration and reduce infection.
The smart bandage’s biosensors can track biophysical changes in the local environment, providing a fast and highly accurate way to measure wound status in real time.
The researchers were able to track the sensor data in real time on a smartphone without cables.
“In mice, we show that our wound care system can continuously monitor skin impedance and temperature and deliver electrical stimulation in response to the wound environment,” the researchers’ summary of the study read.
In preclinical mouse wound models, the treatment group healed approximately 25% faster compared to the control group.
“By sealing the wound, the smart bandage protects while it heals,” Yuanwen Jiang, co-first author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford School of Engineering, said in a statement.
“But it is not a passive tool. It is an active healing device that could change the standard of care when treating chronic wounds.”
The smart bandage’s biosensors can track biophysical changes in the local environment, providing a fast and highly accurate way to measure wound status in real time
The scientists also warned that the smart bandage is currently a proof of concept and there are some challenges
The scientists wanted to find out why and how electrical stimulation promotes wound healing.
They now believe that electrical stimulation promotes the activation of pro-regenerative genes such as selenop, an anti-inflammatory gene shown to help clear pathogens and aid in wound healing, and apoe, which has been shown to increase muscle and soft tissue growth.
In addition, electrical stimulation increased the number of white blood cell populations, particularly monocytes and macrophages, which may also play a role in certain phases of wound healing.
“With stimulation and sensing in one device, the smart bandage accelerates healing but also tracks how the wound is improving,” Artem Trotsyuk, also co-first author of the study and currently Chair of the Department of Surgery and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The scientists also warned that the smart bandage is currently a proof of concept and there are some challenges.
These hurdles include enlarging the device to human size, reducing costs, and solving long-term data storage problems.
All of this would need to be addressed before scaling up to mass production.
They also identified other potential sensors that could be added to the device, including those that measure metabolites and other biomarkers.
A potential obstacle to clinical use would be “hydrogel rejection,” where a person’s skin could react to the device and create a poor gel-skin combination.
Researchers also noted other potential sensors that could be added to the device, including those that measure metabolites and other biomarkers